|English||form, material object|
|Glossary of Buddhism|
In Hinduism and Buddhism, rūpa (Sanskrit; Pāli; Devanagari: रूप; Thai: รูป) means 'form'. While it may be used to express matter or material phenomena, especially that linked to the power of vision in samkhya, it is also used to describe subtle and spiritual realities such as svarupa meaning the form of the self.
According to the Monier-Williams Dictionary (2006), rūpa is defined as:
| Figure 1:
The Five Aggregates (pañca khandha)
according to the Pali Canon.
|Source: MN 109 (Thanissaro, 2001) | diagram details|
|Figure 2: The Pali Canon's Six Sextets:|
|Source: MN 148 (Thanissaro, 1998) diagram details|
- rūpa-khandha – "material forms," one of the five aggregates (khandha) by which all phenomena can be categorized (see Fig. 1).
- rūpa-āyatana – "visible objects," the external sense objects of the eye, one of the six external sense bases (āyatana) by which the world is known (see Fig. 2).
- nāma-rūpa – "name and form" or "mind and body," which in the causal chain of dependent origination (paticca-samuppāda) arises from consciousness and leads to the arising of the sense bases.
In addition, more generally, rūpa is used to describe a statue, in which it is sometimes called Buddharupa.
Rūpa is not matter as in the metaphysical substance of materialism. Instead it means both materiality and sensibility — signifying, for example, a tactile object both insofar as that object is made of matter and that the object can be tactically sensed. In fact rūpa is more essentially defined by its amenability to being sensed than its being matter: just like everything else it is defined in terms of its function; what it does, not what it is. As matter, rūpa is traditionally analysed in two ways: as four primary elements (Pali, mahābhūta); and, as ten or twenty-four secondary or derived elements.
Four primary elements
Existing rūpa consists in the four primary or underived (no-upādā) elements:
In the Abhidhamma Pitaka and later Pali literature, rūpa is further analyzed in terms of ten or twenty-three or twenty-four types of secondary or derived (upādā) matter. In the list of ten types of secondary matter, the following are identified:
If twenty-four secondary types are enumerated, then the following fifteen are added to the first nine of the above ten:
- masculinity or virility
- life or vitality
- heart or heart-basis
- physical indications (movements that indicate intentions)
- vocal indications
- space element
- physical lightness or buoyancy
- physical yieldingness or plasticity
- physical handiness or wieldiness
- physical grouping or integration
- physical extension or maintenance
- physical aging or decay
- physical impermanence
- Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, I.3. "“tadā draṣṭuh svarūpe ‘vasthānam” (Edwin F. Bryant. “The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali.” p.95)
- Monier-Williams Dictionary, pp. 885-6, entry for "Rūpa," retrieved 2008-03-06 from "Cologne University" at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier/ (using "rUpa" as keyword) and http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/serveimg.pl?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0886-rUpakartR.jpg.
- E.g., see Hamilton (2001), p. 3 and passim.
- Dan Lusthaus, Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogācāra Buddhism and the Chʼeng Wei-shih Lun. Routledge, 2002, page 183.
- Hamilton (2001), p. 6.
- Here, "body" (kāya) refers to that which senses "touch" (phoṭṭhabba). In the Upanishads, "skin" is used instead of "body" (Rhys Davids, 1900, p. 172 n. 3).
- The first ten secondary elements are the same as the first five (physical) sense bases and their sense objects (e.g., see Hamilton, 2001, pp. 6-7).
- According to Vsm. XIV, 60 (Buddhaghosa, 1999, p. 447), the heart-basis provides material support for the mind (mano) and mind consciousness. In the Sutta Pitaka, a material basis for the mind sphere (āyatana) is never identified.
- The list of 24 can be found, for instance, in the Visuddhimagga (Vsm. XIV, 36 ff.) (Buddhaghosa, 1999, pp. 443 ff.; and, Hamilton, 2001, p. 7).
- Compare Dhs. 596 (Rhys Davids, 2000, p. 172) and Vsm. XIV, 36 (Buddhaghosa, 1999, p. 443).
- Buddhaghosa, Bhadantācariya (trans. from Pāli by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli) (1999). The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga. Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.
- Hamilton, Sue (2001). Identity and Experience: The Constitution of the Human Being according to Early Buddhism. Oxford: Luzac Oriental. ISBN 1-898942-23-4.
- Monier-Williams, Monier (1899, 1964). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-864308-X. Retrieved 2008-03-06 from "Cologne University" at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/scans/MWScan/index.php?sfx=pdf.
- Rhys Davids, Caroline A.F. (, 2003). Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics, of the Fourth Century B.C., Being a Translation, now made for the First Time, from the Original Pāli, of the First Book of the Abhidhamma-Piṭaka, entitled Dhamma-Saṅgaṇi (Compendium of States or Phenomena). Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4702-9.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (2003). Maha-hatthipadopama Sutta: The Great Elephant Footprint Simile (MN 28). Retrieved 2008-03-06 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/majjhima/mn028-tb0.html[permanent dead link].